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Robert H. Schuller, wife resign from Crystal Cathedral board

The action stems from a breakdown in talks over financial claims against the church that the Schullers filed in Bankruptcy Court. For the first time in its history, there is no Schuller on the board.

March 10, 2012|By Nicole Santa Cruz and Howard Blume, Los Angeles Times
  • Robert H. Schuller, shown in 2010, founded the church 42 years ago.
Robert H. Schuller, shown in 2010, founded the church 42 years ago. (Allen J. Schaben, Los Angeles…)

Embroiled in a legal dispute with the church he founded, Robert H. Schuller and his wife have resigned from the international board of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.

The resignations are a result of a breakdown in negotiations over financial claims against the church that the Schullers filed in Bankruptcy Court.

Crystal Cathedral: An article in the March 11 California section about Robert H. Schuller's departure from the board of the Crystal Cathedral said that he founded the church 42 years ago. The television ministry began 42 years ago, but Schuller founded the church 57 years ago, in 1955. —

Schuller; his wife, Arvella; their daughter Carol Schuller Milner; and her husband, Timothy Milner, allege that the church owes them money for copyright infringement, intellectual property violations and unpaid contracts.

"We cannot continue to serve on the board in what has become an adversarial and negative atmosphere especially since it now seems that it will not be ending any time soon," Arvella Schuller said in a statement Saturday.

Sorting through competing financial claims has delayed $12.5 million in payments to some church creditors and could threaten the church's ability to continue its ministries, including the "Hour of Power" broadcasts.

The Schullers' resignation marks the end of an era. For the first time, no family member is serving on the board of the church that Robert Schuller founded 42 years ago.

The financially ailing church sold the Crystal Cathedral campus to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in February for $57.5 million. Payment to creditors was expected this spring, but because some claims are for unknown amounts and the Milners and Schullers have not agreed to establish a payment reserve, vendors cannot be paid until those amounts are determined by the court, said Nanette Sanders, attorney for the creditors.

The Schuller family insisted Saturday that they did not want to delay payments to creditors. They blamed the current church leadership for halting discussions.

The family received word Tuesday that there would be no further negotiations, Carol Schuller Milner said.

"This could be a long deal," she said in an interview Saturday. "That's why we feel bad for the creditors too."

"We've been hoping there was another way," Schuller Milner said. "It will continue to be a long and probably painful time."

She added that her parents were "baffled" by the breakdown in talks.

A spokesman for the church was not immediately available to respond, but its board has generally sided with the committee of creditors, which has filed objections to the Schuller and Milner claims.

The creditors committee has alleged that the church ministry, of which family members are a part, has borrowed money from an endowment fund and continued to receive generous salaries and perks even as the church struggled financially.

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